Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylagia) and Golfer’s Elbow (medial epicondylagia)
This condition is an overuse injury resulting in tendon damage either to the outside or inside of the elbow. Tennis/golfers elbow is caused by a rapid increase in repetitive tasks (this does not have to be tennis or golf) which cause swelling to infiltrate the tendon through micro tears. It can also be as a result of injury or from chronic issues further up the arm such as shoulder weakness. Physiotherapy aims to initially reduce inflammation and pain, and occasionally bracing depending on the severity. Following this a graded stretching and strengthening program is used to repair the tendon structure and assist in return to activities.
Ligament injuries are common in the elbow and can be due to sports related stressors or due to falls. Injury to the ligaments results in swelling, pain and sometimes instability.
The medial collateral ligament (inside of the elbow), lateral collateral ligament (outside of the elbow) and annular ligament (ligaments around the radial head) are the most commonly affected ligaments. Annular ligament injuries are usually seen as a result of fractures but can occur in young children or as a result of a fall. Ligament injuries in the elbow require extensive exercise therapy to ensure they are able to withstand forces during weightbearing or sports. If there is great instability, bracing/casting or surgery may be required. Physiotherapy will complete an assessment to determine the level of injury and treat appropriately.
Elbow fractures result from a fall onto an outstretched hand and can occur at many points in the elbow. Physiotherapy is important in these conditions typically following a period of immobilisation in a cast. Due to casting and immobilisation, the elbow joint can get stiff and weak. Physiotherapy aims to decrease muscular shortening and joint stiffness to improve your range of motion. Following this specific exercise is graded o assist in return to daily activities and sport.
Cubital tunnel syndrome
This syndrome refers to compression of the ulna nerve at the level of the cubital tunnel. Have you ever hit the your funny bone? This is a form of compression of the ulna nerve at the cubital tunnel. This compression can arise from a number of sources which include: trauma, traction injuries (commonly seen in throwing sports of deformity of the elbow), swelling and thickening of the ligaments surrounding the nerve. Those suffering from cubital tunnel syndrome will have a variation of symptoms ranging from pain at the elbow, inside of the forearm or little finger/ring finger, with more severe compression resulting in pins and needles/numbness. Physiotherapy aims to initially decrease inflammation around the nerve and reduce levels of compression which may be occurring at various levels down the arm. Following this your physiotherapist will prescribe some exercises to assist with movement of the nerve through its pathway.